Monday, May 21, 2007

REVIEW: Room Service (Wynn's Hotel, Dublin)

Gob Squad’s latest explosion of the theatrical form is kind of live reality show without the editing. In keeping with that, the incentives for watching pretty much mirror those that prevail in Big Brother. You aren’t necessarily still here because you’re being entertained, or even because there’s a chance in a moment that you will be. Mostly you keep watching to avoid the feeling of missing something.

Room Service, which runs for five hours in total, does not actually expect its audience to see everything. There’s plenty of time and space for a little stroll out to the bar, or a sandwich. But the four performers from this Nottingham-Berlin collective are staying put, each locked away in their bedrooms above us in the hotel and connected to the function room where we sit by a video camera and a phone.

The two men and two women go through their agonies and their ecstasies alone, while we watch a bank of four monitors. Occasionally they reach out to us, via a phone call, to find somebody to play truth or dare, or, as the night goes on and everyone gets a little tired, truth or truth.

We, the audience, are invited to bare their souls, to talk about love, friendship and loneliness, to say how much they earn, and even, at one point, to come to a surprise party in one of the rooms, (a large portion of the audience accepted that invitation, and left their seats only to appear again, in a boisterous scrum, on one of the monitors).

But this was no ordinary audience. Perhaps the most striking thing about the show was how many off-duty performers and theatre folks had turned up, happy to get involved, delighted, it seems, to have found somewhere to shine and be visible, even on their night off.

Finally, the clock approaches twelve, as is decreed in the Good Book of reality TV, everything goes green as we switch to night vision and we quieten up to hear the last few stories, the last few confessions, the last few whispered lullabies.

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